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Part 8. The Lives of Captive Creatures: Why Are They Even There?

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Why Are They Even There?

BILLIONS OF ANIMALS are kept in various captive situations, ranging from laboratories to zoos and aquariums, from circuses and rodeos to our own homes. We keep animals for a variety of reasons: in the name of science, in the name of entertainment, in the name of food (see part 9), or because they’re our companions. However, the lives of captive animals are often compromised. They may suffer from confinement, the lack of exercise, from being kept alone without friends, and from being mistreated (or deliberately “broken,” as happens in circuses, so they do what’s needed to entertain us). Here I’m primarily concerned with wild and domestic animals who are kept for purposes of entertaining humans. Today, there is increasing scrutiny of zoos and their purpose. Particularly in light of the uneven levels of animal care, the untimely deaths of zoo animals, and even the occasional death of their human caretakers, we must ask what zoos are really good for. I hope that this sample of essays shows that captive animals deserve much better treatment than they receive and that this should lead us to question why we hold them captive in the first place.

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9: Trade in Wildlife and Exotic Species

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Wildlife and Exotic

Species

9

9.1  Introduction

Wildlife animals have been traded for millennia, probably even before the

­domestication of animal species for the production of food and clothing. Yet despite the development of a small number of domesticated species to provide for most of our needs, we have continued to harvest and trade in wildlife and exotic species. Exotic species are those that are not indigenous to the region, which usually precludes the domestic livestock species. These are kept by zoos, for the entertainment of the public and increasingly for conservation and for scientific purposes. Their use for entertainment in circuses is diminishing as public recognition of associated cruel practices in training and transport between venues has increased, creating public pressure for legislative control. They are also kept by a growing number of members of the public for display and a variety of other reasons that will be outlined later. Wildlife animals are harvested for food as well and may be traded with other regions because their exotic and novel nature encourages people to try eating them. The biggest harvest of wild animals, indeed the biggest of any food animals, is that of fish from the oceans. However, many other animals are harvested from the oceans and our scant knowledge of populations in the past has led to many manmade catastrophes, with populations decimated because of high demand for the products and mechanized harvesting of ever ­increasing efficiency.

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5: Trade in Some Key Animal Products: Dairy, Wool and Fur

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Some Key Animal

Products: Dairy, Wool and Fur

5

5.1  Introduction

The primary purpose of keeping agricultural animals has been for the production of meat. However, two key commodities, milk and wool, were highly instrumental in the development of the farming of animals because they did not require the animal to be destroyed. Both were involved in the original domestication of sheep and cattle and have remained of major significance to this day. A third commodity, fur, developed because of the need for people to keep warm, and the use of animal skins for this purpose dates back to before domestication, when hunters in cooler climes had no alternatives to keep warm other than the use of animal skins. In contrast to milk and wool, which can be obtained without animal slaughter, the terminal consequences of obtaining an animal’s skin and, nowadays, limited need to use fur to keep warm because of the many alternatives available, has given users of fur the image of decadence and cruelty as a result of the trapping and farming methods used.

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Part 7. Wild Justice and Moral Intelligence: Don’t Blame Other Animals for Our Destructive Ways

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Don’t Blame Other Animals for Our Destructive Ways

IT IS CLEAR THAT OTHER ANIMALS are conscious and emotional beings. But are they moral? Do they know right from wrong? This is a hot area of research, and comparative studies are showing that indeed they are and they do. In fact, we’re learning that all animals, including humans, are far nicer and more cooperative than we previously imagined. One thing this means is that we shouldn’t blame nonhuman animals for our destructive ways. As this part points out, nonhuman animals have been observed intentionally harming one another, but on balance humans clearly do much more intentional harm to their own species than other animals ever do to their own. Further, we also can learn a lot about compassion, empathy, and morality from observing other species. But finally, new research shows that across cultures humans are really much nicer than we ever give them credit for. It’s a relative few who wage wars, kill people, and harm children. Most people in the world are nice, kind, and generous, just like their nonhuman cousins.

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Part 5. Consciousness, Sentience, and Cognition: A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY EXCITING TIME to study the behavior of other animals. It seems like every day we’re learning more and more about the fascinating lives of other animals — how smart and clever they are and how they’re able to solve problems we never imagined they could. Here I consider a wide range of research on animals that shows clearly just how well-developed and amazing are their cognitive skills. A very few people continue to ignore what we really know about other animals, but they are in the vast minority. Here you can read about flies, bees, lizards, fish, a back-scratching dog, how climate change is influencing behavior, and why respected scientists are pondering the spiritual lives of animals.

However, before getting into this wonderful research on animal minds and consciousness, I start this part with an essay that tackles one of the main and enduring criticisms of such research and of my work in particular: anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics to non-human animals, objects, or events (such as when people talk about “nasty thunderstorms.” The charge of anthropomorphism is often used to bash ideas that other animals are emotional beings. Skeptics claim that dogs, for example, are merely acting “as if” they’re happy or sad, but they really aren’t; they might be feeling something we don’t know or feeling nothing at all. Skeptics propose, because we can’t know with absolute certainty the thoughts of another being, we should take the stance that we can’t know anything or even that consciousness in other animals doesn’t exist. For Psychology Today and elsewhere, I have written extensively about the “problem” of “being anthropomorphic.” For instance, see “Anthropomorphic Double-Talk” in my book The Emotional Lives of Animals (see Endnotes, page 335). In my opinion, there’s no way to avoid anthropomorphism. Even those who eschew anthropomorphism must make their arguments using anthropomorphic terms, and they often do so in self-serving ways. If a scientist says an animal is “happy,” no one questions it, but if the animal is described as sad or suffering, then charges of anthropomorphism are leveled. Scientists can accept and treat their own companion animals as if they feel love, affection, gratitude, and pain, and then deny these very emotions in the animals they use, and abuse, while conducting experiments in the lab.

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Part 11. Rewilding Our Hearts: The Importance of Kindness, Empathy, and Compassion for All Beings

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

The Importance of Kindness, Empathy, and Compassion for All Beings

HERE IS THE BIG QUESTION: What can we do to make the world a better place for all beings, human and nonhuman, and to protect their homes? There are no easy answers. We need to move out of our comfort zones and think and act outside of the box because what we’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked very well. We really are decimating our planet at an unprecedented rate, and we need to stop doing this now. We’ve ignored nature for far too long a time, and we can’t continue living as if what we do doesn’t really matter, as if we don’t need to make changes right now to stop plundering Earth. What we do really does matter in all arenas. Humans are very accomplished denialists. I often think we should be called Homo denialus rather than Homo sapiens.

I travel a lot, and I meet many wonderful people who are working tirelessly and selflessly for other animals, humans, and the planet as a whole. I’m an unflinching, card-carrying optimist, and that’s because I know there are many others doing all they can do. This keeps my hopes and dreams alive. Many people lose faith and burn out because the work is tedious and can be rather depressing. I always say to avoid burnout one should work hard, play hard, rest hard, and be able to step back and laugh at oneself when need be. Also, avoid being sidetracked by people who just want to waste your time as you work to make the world a better, safer, and more peaceful and compassionate place for all beings.

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8: Trade in Horses, Cats and Dogs

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Horses, Cats and

Dogs

8

8.1  Introduction

Horses, cats and dogs share a common usage as companion animals but they can also variously be used as racing animals (horses and dogs), for meat production

(horses mostly, sometimes dogs and very occasionally cats), milk production (horses) and fur production (cats and dogs). Because these animals supply specialist markets, not mainstream like cattle and chickens, trade is often local. The trade is often not regulated as well as the livestock trade, frequently covert and sometimes illegal.

8.2  Horses

Horse trading has a long history, with evidence of activity in central Asia around

1000 bce (Wagner et al., 2011). The close relation between owner and horse makes the transaction very reliant on the owner’s report of the characteristics of the horse. The potential for deceit in this activity has given the term ‘horse trading’ special meaning in relation to business deals.

According to the World Horse Organization (WHO, 2015), there are now approximately 58 million horses worldwide, with 16% in the USA, 13% in China,

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1: The History of Animal Trade

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

The History of Animal Trade

1

1.1  Introduction

Our ancestors existed as hunter gatherers, and before that as anthropoid apes. The hunter gatherers had varied diets, which gave them security as a population against climatic extremes that favoured certain plant and animal types (Milton, 2000). The costs and risks of procuring meat and animal products were high and many were primarily gatherers. However, meat, once it was obtained, was a concentrated source of energy and protein, the most important nutrients that they required for survival. Not only did hunter gatherers in different parts of the world have quite varied diets, depending on availability, they were also free to migrate to utilize different fauna and flora sources, depending on the season and weather patterns.

Settled agriculture, adopted over a period of just a few thousand years beginning about 10,000 years ago, offered the opportunity for higher yields from plants and animals that were farmed in small areas. However, the static nature of this activity and the enhanced resource requirements of this form of food production, in the form of a regular water supply and a nutrient-rich soil, increased exposure to climatic and seasonal extremes. The inevitable variation in productivity could only be absorbed into a successful existence if humans cooperated with neighbouring groups, so that food surpluses in one region were transported to others where the need was greater. Thus our cognitive skills in organizing this trade, coupled with our highly social behaviour, combined to make plant and animal raising a viable alternative to hunter gathering when societies cooperated by trading in surplus goods.

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Part 10. Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: Redecorating Nature, Peaceful Coexistence, and Compassionate Conservation

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Redecorating Nature, Peaceful Coexistence, and Compassionate Conservation

WHILE I WAS ATTENDING A MEETING in Oxford, England, in September 2010 about the growing field called “compassionate conservation,” I came to realize that the basic question with which many of my colleagues and I are concerned is “Who lives, who dies, and why?” As humans, we can do just about anything we choose to do, and along with this incredible power comes incredible responsibilities to do the best we can for other animals and their homes. Power does not mean license to do whatever we like because it suits us just fine. I live in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado, and I am fortunate to have many nonhuman neighbors, including cougars, black bears, red foxes, coyotes, and a wide variety of small mammals, birds, lizards, insects, and snakes. I choose to live where I do, and I must do all I can to coexist in peace and harmony with these wonderful animals. As you’ll read below, I’ve had some close and dangerous encounters of the lion kind and have had to change my ways so that my nonhuman neighbors and I can all live together. If I choose to, I can move, but my animal friends can’t just pick up and move because their living rooms aren’t mobile.

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Part 1. Animals and Us: Reflections on Our Challenging, Frustrating, Confusing, and Deep Interrelationships with Other Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Reflections on Our Challenging, Frustrating, Confusing, and Deep Interrelationships with Other Animals

FROM TIME TO TIME, people ask me and the editors at Psychology Today why I write for them. I was astounded when these queries first came in, but I came to realize that it’s often not clear how the lives and emotions of animals relate to human psychology. In fact, our interactions with animals tell us a good deal about how we perceive ourselves, we who are also animals. Our interactions with animals run deep, and in very direct and pragmatic ways, these interactions affect both ourselves and the animals involved. Simply put, when we harm other animals, we hurt ourselves, and when we protect and nurture other animals, we heal ourselves. Whether we deny or recognize animal emotions and intelligence, this has real-world consequences for everyone. This is why I prefer using the word “interrelationships” rather than “relationships,” and why I prefer phrases like “other animals” and “nonhuman animals” rather than “animals,” as if humans were somehow separate from or not animals. In these ways I try to emphasize that all animal species share a continuum of being, which includes the way we feel and what we think.

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7: Disease Transmission and Biodiversity Loss Through the Trade in Farm Animals

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Disease Transmission and

Biodiversity Loss Through the

Trade in Farm Animals

7

7.1  Introduction

As well as the risks to the environment and to human health from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) discussed in Chapter 4, there are significant risks to humans and other animals from transmission of infectious diseases, as well as major risk to biodiversity of farm animals as a result of trade.

About 60% of pathogens that cause human disease are of animal origin, and the proportion of emerging infectious diseases that are of animal origin is even higher, 75% (OIE, 2013). Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, Nipah virus, West Nile virus, Rift valley fever, brucellosis and echinococcosis are just a few examples of zoonoses that have had severe impacts on human health.

At the 81st General Session of the Assembly of World Organisation for Animal

Health (OIE) delegates in Paris in 2013, Princess Haya of Jordan, Goodwill

Ambassador to the OIE, said in her opening address:

As a population, we need to be able to harness the products of the land and sea, but we need to be able to trade these products too. In doing so, we must ensure that we are protected from the ravages of disease in both the human and animal populations.

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Part 4. Why Dogs Hump: Or, What We Can Learn from Our Special Friends

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

WE OFTEN HEAR that the companion animals with whom we share our lives have unqualified trust in us, that they believe we will always have their best interests in mind, and that they love us unconditionally and would do anything for us. And, indeed, they often do take care of us in a seemingly selfless manner.

But dogs and other animals don’t love everyone unconditionally. They can be very selective. From time to time it’s a good idea to revisit, if only briefly, some common beliefs we have about relationships between ourselves and other animals. I’ve been asked on many occasions about trust among animals, and this essay puts some of my thoughts on the table for discussion.

What does it mean to say our companions trust us? The notion of trust is difficult to discuss because it’s very broad and has many different sides. Trusting another is related to intention. What did a person (or other animal) intend to do, and were their actions in the best interest of another being? It’s possible to have the best of intentions and to do something that harms another being. This doesn’t mean that the individual who erred shouldn’t ever be trusted again.

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2: Trade Policies for Animal Products

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade Policies for Animal

Products

2

2.1  Development of Trade Policy

Trade is a natural activity for a species that is very social, highly communicative and mobile around the planet. Humans evolved as an opportunistic species, seeking out new environments to occupy. When the majority of the habitable areas of the planet had been colonized, several thousand years ago, humans naturally turned to trade to cement relations with people in occupied lands for mutual benefit. Through trade they could obtain goods that they could not produce or obtain at home, and in return they offered goods they were able to produce or could produce more easily, or economically, than those in the lands they visited.

Trade also developed relations between peoples of different cultures, allowing fringe benefits to be had through the cultural exchange that ensued. Inevitably, it required a degree of trust between the traders, concerning delayed payment for example, or the benign intent of visitors. In some cases trade was a smokescreen for an attempt to take over a region, and thus great caution was required on the part of the hosts for a visiting party.

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Part 3. Media and the (Mis)representation of Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

IN THIS PART’S FIVE ESSAYS, I look at the ways animals are represented, or more often misrepresented, in the media. While we don’t expect cartoon entertainments like The Lion King or Finding Nemo to represent real animals — and it’s alarming and upsetting when movies like The Grey (2011) demonize wild animals for profit — we do expect newspapers, magazines, documentaries, and other seemingly objective sources to tell us the truth. Unfortunately, with liberal license and often out of ignorance, the media is notorious for representing other animals in a false and misleading light. As they do with so many topics, the media sensationalizes extremes and reinforces untrue and even harmful stereotypes about animals. It’s essential that animals be represented correctly because what people read influences how they perceive and ultimately how they treat other animals. Among the reasons why I write essays for Psychology Today about the lives of other animals is to portray them the way they are, not as who we want or imagine them to be.

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4: Trade in Meat

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Meat

4

4.1  Introduction

Humans are not anatomically or physiologically designed to eat raw meat. The absence of elongated canine teeth makes tearing through raw meat difficult and the relatively high pH in our stomachs renders us susceptible to food poisoning if the flesh is at all contaminated. For our ancestors the infrequency of successful hunts would have made contamination of stored meat likely. However, their ability to master fire provided a method of processing meat to make it more easily consumed and less likely to be contaminated. Hence for as long as prehistoric records are available, meat consumption has been a part of the human diet. Our ancestors’ advanced ability to communicate facilitated complex hunting methods, luring animals into traps for example. Cave paintings suggest that there were ritual gatherings before the hunt, perhaps even with music and hallucinogenic drugs, which bonded the males together to improve their performance in the hunt.

Hunting for meat provided an alternative to the long process of gathering nutrients from plant life, which varied with climate and season and often required a nomadic lifestyle to follow the geographic availability of suitable plants. The nutrient demands for hunting, gathering and nomadism were considerable, and meat was able to provide the highly digestible food needed. Nevertheless, the risks involved and uncertainty in finding food meant that life was short, typically 25–40 years. With the coming of agriculture, and the development of improved plants, principally cereals, with higher seed yields, a settled way of life became possible and it was no longer necessary to hunt animals for meat. However, in colder parts of the world, particularly the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, meat consumption remained necessary because it could provide the nutrients needed, and in these regions crop growth was limited. Over the last 1000 years people from these regions came to colonize most of the rest of the world and the colonizers took their meat-eating habits with them. For example, the British colonies covered one-third of the world at the beginning of the 20th century,

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